Coastal Stewards Delaware


Did Verizon intentionally mislead the Rehoboth Commissioners on federal rules on 5g Poles ?

A last minute letter from Verizon to the City, claiming that Rehoboth commissioners were overstepping their authority was rebutted out as a false “scare tactic”, by relying on information already overturned by a Court, so said a leading town resident on the 5g issue. 

The Verizon letter, apparently with misleading language on 5G regulations, was read out loud during a debate where the Commissioners were to consider regulating the visual impact of 5G poles in the town.  The letter was not yet available to the public due to Verizon emailing it to Council members on Sunday, the day before a Monday February 7 meeting.

In the public comments period following the reading of the Verizon letter, the resident, Michael Strange, an engineer and former Delaware Dept of Transportation Official, claimed Verizon‘s assertions were overturned by the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals in mid 2000.

The resident’s public comments to the Commissioners, centered on claims made that the Rehoboth commissioners were overstepping their authority.

Michael Strange refuted the telecom giants’ claims made to Commissioners as a “scare tactic” saying “I’m very discouraged” [that Verizon] “quotes FCC actions which were negated by the 9th Circuit a year and a half ago.” 

The challenge of the current regulatory ability of the City in regards to the 5G poles and their appearance, was made in a letter by Verizon’s Delaware lobbyist who is also an attorney, Bonnie Metz, and ATT representative also in an email read during the hearing, concurred with the Verizon Statement. The 5G poles have had a major impact on the beach environment, notably the aesthetics of nearby towns including Dewey Beach and Bethany Beach. In 2019 Verizon began to install poles in the smallest towns, now proceeding up to Rehoboth (and shortly expected to be coming to Lewes). ATT has also installed poles but at far less density, given they use a signal that travels further distances.

In its letter to Commissioners on Sunday February 6 before a Hearing on February 7, 2022, Verizon asserted that the City was prohibited by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from even considering minimizing impact on the residents by using best technology related to the appearance (aesthetics) of the 5G poles. AT&T also submitted correspondence to concur with the comments submitted by Verizon. Verizon was submitting comments in response to Rehoboth’s consideration of adding BATEA – Best Available Technology Economically Achievable into its wireless ordinance and design standards. 

Citing the 9th Circuit Court Case that struck down the very language that Verizon claimed in its letter as current. Michael referenced the Verizon statement that “Under Federal law, the Town has the authority to impose objective, reasonable and nondiscriminatory aesthetic requirements for small wireless facilities.”  Mr. Strange then referenced the Court of Appeals decision “impose objective” was changed by the 9th Circuit to reflect “subjective” with “In sum, the requirement that aesthetic regulations be “no more burdensome” than those imposed on other technologies is not consistent with the more lenient statutory standard that regulations not “unreasonably discriminate.” The requirement that local aesthetic regulations be “objective” is neither adequately defined nor its purpose adequately explained. On its face, it preempts too broadly’ the Court said.

Listen to the clip here of that section of Michael challenging Verizon.

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